And so yesterday, 20th march 2015, it was curtains for Shahid Afridi when his team lost to Australia and was sent packing from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Cricket fans around the world in general and from Pakistan, in particular, were disappointed to see Shahid Afridi under perform in his last One Day International.
When Afridi walked onto the pitch in his second only One Day International, nobody knew he would scale the heights of international glory one day. Facing an impressive Sri Lankan bowling attack, Afridi tore through the bowling lineup and left all baffled when he scored an astounding 37 ball century, making a world record to his name. Pakistanis fell instantly in love with him and the world was captivated by Shahid; the man who had been included in Pakistan’s cricket team for his leg-spin, had made the fastest century in international cricket history!
As time passed by, Shahid Afridi played plenty matches for the Pakistan and soon became a senior member of the team. After taking over the reigns as captain of team Pakistan, Afridi led his team into the semifinals of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 before losing to India. The swashbuckling all-rounder did not give up though and proved to be instrumental in Pakistan’s 2009 ICC World Twenty 20 Cup when his stellar, economical bowling throughout the tournament steered the Younis Khan-led team to World Cup glory. Afridi bagged 11 wickets in 7 matches he played and bowled economically to restrict rivals to modest totals.
Afridi is perhaps known best for thrashing arch-rivals India last year in the Asia Cup and sending them home. With only one wicket in Pakistan’s hand and a difficult 9 runs required from the last 4 balls, Afridi was on strike and facing Ravichandran Ashwin. With two consecutive heart stopping, towering sixes, Afridi manage to steal victory from the jaws of India and sent team blue home with their tails between their legs.
Afridi’s 2 Big Sixes Against India To Win The… by Obaid_Khan_8
It was Afridi’s batting which always mesmerized the crowd. A crowd puller, whenever Shahid made his way to the pitch, bat in hand, the crowd roared with vigor and determination. Every bowler was cautious in setting a field to contain the aggression of Afridi; yet often they failed. His high powered sixes sent fans into a frenzy and if Afridi got to a good start, it was always curtains for the other side. His trademark leg-spin also proved to be quite lethal for bowling lineups, confusing batsmen into snicking an edge right into the wicket keeper’s gloves or getting bowled around the legs courtesy Afridi’s deliveries.
In an impressive ODI career spanning 18 years and 398 matches, Afridi collected 395 wickets and powered 8064 runs. Often batting as a low order batsman, his contribution to the team seemed of immense valuable at times, when Pakistan needed someone to play attacking cricket.
Much hopes were pinned on Shahid Afridi when Pakistan went into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but he failed to live up to the expectations. The swashbuckling all-rounder failed to perform both with the bat as well as with the ball as his team crumbled to batting collapses throughout the tournament. Not only was Lala criticized for his rash shots which led to dismissals, his bowling failed to garner wickets and he went for expensive runs throughout the mega event.
Not only was Afridi one of Pakistan’s best all-rounders, he was also a captivating personality. Owing to his rugged good looks and flamboyant batting style, he won himself a stream of female fan following around the world. Endorsements for various brands ranging from soft drinks to cell phone companies to banks, everyone wanted Afridi’s face with their product. Nicknamed Boom Boom Afridi (yeah, you know why), Afridi will be sorely missed by the Pakistani cricket team in the years to come. Not only was his oodles of experience valuable to the team but his handy leg-spin bowling also made up for the country’s impressive bowling attack. There will be many superstars that will don the green jersey in the years to come; however none will command such a huge fan following as Afridi did during his cricketing days.
Here’s how Pakistan’s most glorified all-rounder tweeted his retirement following yesterday’s disappointing loss to Australia.
Hrdlck with #wc15 prfrmnce,didn’t end it the way I would like to but thanx for all the support throughout my 19 yrs of carrier.. Love u all.
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) March 21, 2015
Afghanistan cricket board also tweeted in support and appreciation for Afridi’s illustrious career.
— Afghan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) March 21, 2015
Saqlain Mushtaq tweeted the following:-
Congratulations to Misbah Ul Haq and Shahid Afridi for an outstanding one day career.
— Saqlain Mushtaq (@Saqlain_Mushtaq) March 20, 2015
Dav Whatmore, former Pakistan coach shared his message on twitter.
Well done @SAfridiOfficial on a 19yr career with Pakistan! You will surely be missed by both fans and your team mates. Great effort!
— Dav Whatmore (@dfwhatmore) March 21, 2015
Spin maestro Saeed Ajmal thanked Afridi for being an amazing cricketer and a great friend.
Thank you @SAfridiOfficial Lala for the great services to Pakistan cricket for more than 18 years. You have been an amazing friend as well.
— Saeed Ajmal (@REALsaeedajmal) March 20, 2015